Monday, November 8, 2010
It's no secret that I love Christmas! And I love Christmas tins. I love having them on display. But if they're on display, check inside, they're usually filled with goodies you need to eat (and for the sake of my waistline you REALLY do need to eat). This is probably the reason Mark asked me to marry him, the eating part I mean.
I love Christmas baking and this year is probably the latest I've ever started it (typically as soon as my Thanksgiving turkey leaves my freezer making space for Christmas goodies, I start - and I live in Canada so that's the second week of October!). But this weekend I officially started. I decided to start with brownies. I'm always on the lookout for the best brownie recipe. You know, thick, gooey (but not too gooey), with a nice chocolate flavour without being so sweet it sends you into a diabetic coma. Oh, and from scratch. As much as I'm not such a mix snob that I will never use one, I CAN taste the difference and so prefer to not to.
This brownie recipe my mom pulled out one time when I was a kid and I made them and have been coming back to them ever since. The only downside to them is that they are thin, but they make up for it with the amount the recipe yields. I hate making a pan of brownies and only getting an 8x8 pan. Seriously recipe writers, if I have an emotional enough need that I need to go to the work of making brownies, an 8x8 pan is not going to cut it. Especially if I have to share.
I also like that the icing for this recipe can be made and applied while the brownies are still warm. I have been known to make these, whip up the icing while they are in the last few minutes baking and then running out the door to a function with them still warm. Just don't do what I did when I was 10 and confused granulated sugar for confectioners. Not the same thing. Makes for gritty icing.
Are you ready?
Brownies For a Crowd
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional - and I never put them in)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all the ingredients except the nuts, beating until well blended. Stir in nuts. Spread into a greased jelly roll pan (I think they're about 10in. x 15in.). Bake 25 minutes or until set and testing done. Glaze with icing (below).
5 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp water
Melt butter and cocoa over low heat in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in water 1 tsp at a time until glossy and smooth.
Some Helpful Notes
Line the jelly roll pan with foil. This makes them much easier to remove as you can peel back the foil. Then they will stay in nice little squares. They cut better when completely cool.
You will think the ratios are off when you add the sugar to the icing as it's hard to stir. Don't worry its right.
You will also think you've messed it up as you add the water. Its really important to only add it a teaspoon at a time (for the record there are 3 in tablespoon). I live in a dry climate and usually end up using the full 2 tablespoons, but if your area is more humid, you may need less. As you add the water it will make the icing a gloppy mess. It may not mix in well and you'll be sure it's not right. It is. Just mix in more water and then all of a sudden it will go glossy and smooth.
You will also notice that the sprinkles in the picture are not at all Christmas-y. This makes me sad (Mark will ask if that's a good enough reason to eat all of this batch and then I can make a Christmas batch later. This will not happen.). I have been on the hunt for Christmas sprinkles. The stores do not seem to think its important to stock them early. Either that, or the people who are more ahead of the game than me already snatched them up.